TX Chainsaw: Family – Chapter 11 – Rising Dust

Dr. Ambrel: You’re saying if we storm in there, they might kill Miss Trambler. Yes, I understand, but we have to do something.

Deputy Hadley: We won’t – but I will. Your uncle disappeared a long while ago, and there was never any real proof, not ‘nuff to get my bosses movin’. They just say he coulda left, or drove away and had a heart attack. If I can get some proof that Jim and Dodie Connor were grabbed by the Hewitt clan, maybe I can get more support for a real raid on the place. Nothin’ gets the higher ups to hustle quite like a rich man and his pretty wife goin’ missin’.

Dr. Ambrel: I agree, but some sort of foray must be made initially. If you insist that I should remain, take Dr. Wincott with you, as my representative. She will be instructed to remain in your car if you wish, but she can take notes for my file on Hewitt, and act as a caretaker and guardian for Miss Trambler, as well – if you happen to acquire her.

Deputy Hadley: Fine, fine – you missed your callin’, though, Doc. You’d have made a fine hostage negotiator … or a politician.

**************************************************

September brought cooler breezes, though really cold weather might not arrive until December, if then.

With the freezer in the basement stuffed nearly full, Amarie saw a welcome calm steal over her family as everyone settled into a comfortable and quiet routine of chores, meals, and rare leisure time.

Uncle Hoyt seemed to be the naturally restless type, and since he couldn’t drive the patrol car for pleasure, fuel being limited, he spent a good deal of time in his room with Mrs. Connor.

In the late morning, he would drive through town to the highway to keep watch for travelers, and Amarie was sometimes allowed to go with him.

She treasured those times, secretly pleased when the long and dusty road remained empty, inspiring her uncle to talk. His voice was rough and clipped, reminding her of the cracked leather horse collar at the top of the basement stairs. It lent a dreamlike quality to his stories of war, or tales of family members long dead.

Whenever someone did come driving along, she knew how to play her part, knew how to gauge which part was needed. If the traveler looked dangerous, she remained in the car and acted like Sheriff Hoyt scared her to death. If the vehicle was full of the more harmless sort, she would jump out of the car as if escaping him and run into the road, begging them to help her. Each time she did it, she expected them to swerve around her and gun the engine, but they never did.

Amarie was pleased and proud the first time he let her try driving the extra car home. She figured it out after his brief instruction and followed the squad car with only a few hitches and stops. Eventually, after the next couple of times, he even showed her how to siphon the gas from the captured auto to his patrol car. Uncle Hoyt’s praise was blunt and quick, but the pride in his bloodshot eyes could melt her on the spot.

She was less help to her brother if he was at the work table, and it was safer to keep her distance from the tools he used most of the time, since he could get a good flail going with either a cleaver or the chainsaw in his hands.

Not wanting to distract him and get him into trouble, she left him to it that afternoon and slipped off to the back of the basement to explore odd corners, shelves, tables, and hanging objects.

I guess if somethin’s covered with dust it’s nothin’ Tommy’s messed with – not in a while, anyway.

She loved to look at his art: mix and match groupings of items nailed to a piece of flat wood, or fixed to it with rusty wire. Some pieces of them, once parts of something alive, were in bad shape, but the attempt was impressive.

He didn’t understand ‘bout seein’ shapes in things, but he does care ‘bout makin’ these. Sighing as she set one of them down again, she straightened another it had bumped. That’s gotta mean somethin’, that he’s got sense beyond just work and eat, right?

Turning, Amarie startled at the glimpse of a face staring at her in the gloom. Approaching with caution, she realized it was a strange mannequin, like the shops had sometimes. It was sprawled, as if resting, on an ancient and mouse-nibbled wire spring mattress.

The vaguely female torso and head were wooden and also nibbled, with flecks of old paint suggesting a face on the oval head. A pile of dark material under the head might have been a wig, but it was hard to tell. Its wooden limbs had metal joints, allowing it to be posed.

In the distance, the sound of the cleaver chopping into meat had stopped and she could hear her brother coming to find her. Smiling, she took a few steps toward a worn old table and placed her palms down on it.

When his hands touched her, grasping the dress she wore, she bent over the table. Without coaching, he remembered his lessons that this posture meant he could have what he wanted.

Amarie held her breath at the sounds of leather rustling, his belt buckle clanking – and then she gasped as he took her from behind. His weight and strength nearly knocked her over and down onto the table, the leather apron slapping against her leg where he had shoved it out of his way. She groped for one of the large hands on her hip and tugged, smiling when he moved it to wrap the powerful forearm around her waist. Holding her up and keeping her from harm, he thrust harder.

She let her soft sounds of pleasure encourage him, the heat of it numbing her mind against any other sensation until he came. Crying out in time with his low broken moan, she held his hand to her stomach a moment. When she let it go, he stepped back, the thick cock slipping free.

“Oh, Tommy…” Turning to face him, she gave him a shy smile. “I love it when you come to find me, to be with me.”

Her hands were quick as they grasped the slick cock under the apron and tucked it back into his pants, fastening them with practiced ease. She let the apron fall back in place and opened her arms, letting out a long sigh as he bent down to hold her.

~ ~ ~

“You gotta wife now, son, and that changes things, don’t it?” Uncle Hoyt chastised Thomas at supper. “Get in here and sit down at the table – not gonna tell you twice.”

Amarie smiled at her brother and patted the seat of the chair next to her. When he sat, she lifted up off of her chair a bit so she could gently kiss his cheek, pleased that he didn’t flinch. “Can I really call him my husband, Uncle Hoyt?”

“Got the flashy rock on your finger, don’t you?”

“Yes, sir,” she answered, and grinned at Tommy.

Always nervous of sitting at the table for any reason, her brother wasn’t listening. He ate his soup with gusto, though, as her uncle had said he would when he stopped being upset over her being there.

Whenever she watched him, if they weren’t down in the basement alone, the nerves got worse; so she tried to pay attention to the talk of the adults instead. Now, though, they weren’t telling family stories – it was all about the state of the town and the garden. After a while, she was almost yawning.

“Heavens, child, don’t nod off in your soup,” her mother admonished, her smile quick to reassure her son’s worried glance.

“Sorry, ma’am.”

Uncle Hoyt chuckled. “Might wanna sleep every so often, honey – just cuz Tommy can go forever on a nap a week prior don’t mean you can.”

“Would you tell one of your stories, sir, from the war?”

Momma Hewitt interrupted him before he started. “Not at the supper table – all that wretched mess…”

Winking at Amarie, Uncle Hoyt finished his soup.

~ ~ ~

In the bright late morning sun the next day, Amarie worked to take down the hanging clothes. Some of the sheets weren’t quite dry yet, so she left those up. She frowned at the sad shape of her brother’s few pants and shirts.

Husband, she corrected herself – though she still liked to think of him as her brother. It felt closer, somehow. I wish somebody his size would come along; he needs new clothes.

She startled when the breeze moved a sheet and her uncle appeared behind it.

“Sorry, darlin’ – wanted to see if you noticed you gotta audience.”

Amarie looked where he pointed and was surprised to see Thomas at the side of the back porch. He had one hand on the post, the other limp at his side. His heavy leather apron was missing, so he had to be finished with their latest catch. She gave him a smile.

“He needs new clothes, Uncle Hoyt. There’s nothin’ left at the store that’ll fit him.”

“Yeah, but all we seem to get are these skinny bikers. At least we ran outta yours. I’ll keep my eyes peeled, honey.”

On impulse, she hugged him and then watched him walk off toward the patrol car. When he drove off down the road, she turned to face the back porch again, but Thomas was gone.

“Tommy?” She heard his heavy footsteps behind her and managed not to startle a second time when his hands fell on her shoulders. “I washed your things, they’re dry now. Will you carry the basket in for me when I’m done here?”

He pressed in closer and she felt the swell in his pants. Smiling, she knew they’d never get down to the basement in time.

The other day, he’d bent her over the edge of the couch as they headed in for dinner. Their mother had been scandalized, though Uncle Hoyt had just laughed and clapped. Uncle Monty had simply stared. Her cheeks had flushed hot with embarrassment, but Thomas never noticed or cared.

Remembering again how good he felt thrusting powerfully inside her, she walked off out from under his hands to lead him between the hanging sheets. Getting down onto her hands and knees in the dust, sparse grass, and weeds, she pulled her dress up to her waist and smiled back at him. She hadn’t bothered with panties in weeks.

His grunt as he hit his knees behind her bare bottom, and then his quickening huffs of breath made her wet so fast that she gasped when his belt buckle clanked. The breeze fluttered the sheets on either side of them as he pushed his cock into her. Practiced now, his arm came around her stomach to help hold her up.

Amarie repeated his name until gasps and groans were all the sounds she could make, her body jerking in his grasp with each urgent thrust. The weeds burned her knees and palms, but his wide shadow kept the sun off of her skin. She listened to the snap and flutter of the white cotton, the grunts of her brother, and sank into the bloom of hot pleasure, her hair tickling her face as it moved.

When it was over, he slapped his hips against her ass a few more times, pushing deeper inside her. She kept her eyes closed as his force moved her hands, the dust eddying up into her face. Then he pulled out, his arm hauling her into his chest. When he rose, he brought her up with him like a rag doll before setting her gently on her feet.

Amarie held her thighs tightly together for a moment, not wanting to let his cum drip down her legs yet, though it would when she took the sheets down. It felt good to hold it inside for a moment.

Leaning over, she grasped his cock and took it into her mouth to clean it off. She slid her tongue around inside the little skin hood, too, and sucked a few last precious salty drops from it before tucking it away.

Together, they finished taking down the washing. Thomas patiently held the heavy wicker basket for her and followed her back to the house with it.

He retreated back to the basement after setting the basket down on the kitchen table for her. Amarie shared a knowing smile with their mother as she began folding clothes.

Momma Hewitt was making iced tea in the heavy glass pitcher for Wilma’s visit.

“Henrietta’s comin’ too, and she’ll bring Jedidiah. Be nice to have you stay and visit awhile before you scamper downstairs.”

“That would be fun,” Amarie responded, using the shirt she was folding to hide her smirk. All she really wanted to do was go downstairs and play with Tommy, but she liked Wilma and her family.

“You can teach Jedidiah more numbers,” her mother suggested.

“Um-hmm,” Amarie murmured. She could feel a wet line of cum leaking down her thigh. Last night, her brother had licked it all clean. He was more at ease, and more willing to trust and learn new things. Sooner or later, though, she was going to run out of things to teach him.

“Here they come now,” Momma Hewitt announced, wiping her hands on her flowery apron. “Come outta that trance, child, and help me set out the glasses.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

~ ~ ~

That evening, after finishing the supper dishes, Amarie went upstairs to Uncle Hoyt’s door. She could hear Mrs. Connor whimpering, so she paused with her hand raised to knock. When the bed stopped creaking and his footsteps sounded on the floor, she knocked.

“C’mon in, honey.”

“How do y’know it’s me and not Momma?” she asked, looking away as he slipped into a threadbare bathrobe. As always, Mrs. Connor stared up at her with tear-filled eyes. He’d thrown a sheet over her nude body this time.

“Momma knocks mad, you do it polite.” He sat on the edge of the big bed at the heavy wooden footboard, near the woman’s head. “What can I do you for?”

“I was hopin’ you could tell me ‘bout some other stuff, things for Tommy and me?”

“How’d the last lesson go?” he asked, grinning at her like a cat.

Amarie couldn’t help the blush that rose on her cheeks, but she was used to him now, and had learned how to get him to talk. “It was good. You saw him on the back porch; he followed me into the yard and we did it like the dogs, on the ground. He seems to like that as much as the other ways.”

“Nice.” He looked down at Mrs. Connor and pushed his finger into her mouth. “No bitin’ now, there’s a good girl. So you want ‘nother trick to try? You’d be better off keepin’ it simple, but there’s not much left to try that is. Well, maybe one thing. Here, easier to demonstrate…”

Amarie was grateful he kept the robe on, though he tossed the sheet back off of the bound woman. They both ignored her feeble pleas and protests as he got up and crawled back over her on the bed. His head at her hips, he settled on hands and knees with his knees on either side of her head, the robe hiding her face. She tried to thrash, but the ropes were too tight.

Grinning again as he looked back at Amarie, he began to explain. “This is a good way to let him eat you out where he gets some fun, too; just don’t use the word ‘eat’ to your brother. He licks, you suck. Got it?”

Blushing fiercely, Amarie nodded. “Got it.”

“Best you be where I’m at, him on his back.”

“Okay, I’ll try that. Thank you, sir.”

“One more thing – don’t much matter to me, but work on keepin’ the playtime with Tommy down in the basement, or if it’s in the house or outside, make sure your momma ain’t ‘round, y’hear? You lovebirds are gonna upset Momma’s delicate sense o’ Southern decency.” He winked at her with a smirk.

Amarie grinned, stifling a giggle behind her hand. “Yes, sir. Thanks again for the help. Night…”

“Happy to oblige, honey. Night…”

She turned away and opened the door. Behind her, he spoke to Mrs. Connor.

“I didn’t get up here for the view, girl. Suck. Suck it good, and maybe you can get outta the ropes for a bit. Since you ain’t gonna try to run off again, right? Only got so many fingers left.”

Amarie looked down at her fingers as she shut the door. The gold and diamonds of the wedding rings winked at her in the dim light of the bare overhead bulb at the top of the stairs. Mrs. Connor couldn’t have worn them on the proper hand anymore.

She tried to feel some sympathy for the woman, but it was hard to muster after she had cut Uncle Monty’s arm when she got away from the dinner table before. Uncle Hoyt had kept her upstairs, restricted to the bathroom in the hall and his bedroom, ever since.

Feeling eyes on her, she looked up to see Thomas at the foot of the stairs, his hand on the rail. The gold band there that matched hers was dull in the dark of the hall. She gave him a smile and walked down until she was eye-level to him and kissed him. One hand moved for her dress hem, but she grabbed it instead to lead him off to the metal door.

“Momma might could take a switch to us both if we do it on the stairs when she wants to go up to bed. C’mon, Tommy. Uncle Hoyt showed me somethin’ fun we can try.”

**************************************************

Luda Mae sat on the back porch and smoked her cigarette. It was a fine evening for mid-September, not too cool yet, and supper and chores were done. The sky was on fire in a hazy orange and pink sunset. Across the yard, the breeze moved through the empty clotheslines, making a hum that joined the sounds of the insects.

Behind her, the kitchen door opened, but the footfalls were soft. “Come sit with me, child.”

Amarie came up and sat beside her on the long bench. Without a word, they held hands. For a time, they were quiet, but she could feel the girl trying not to fidget.

“Momma?”

“Mmm?” She exhaled and listened.

“You know how I been feelin’ sick lately, and thought it was a bug?”

Luda Mae turned a little to face her daughter, a slight smile starting to tug at her lips. She dropped the cigarette butt and crushed it with the toe of her shoe. “It’s not a bug?”

The girl dropped her chin, screening her face with that mop of pretty hair. “I think … maybe it might be a … a baby? That stuff Wilma said ‘bout when she knew she had Henrietta…”

Letting the smile spread, Luda Mae moved the hair and tucked it behind the girl’s ear. “I think maybe you’re right. Ain’t that a wonder?”

“Is it? I-I mean … is it good?”

“It’s a blessin’, child – do you wanna have his baby?”

“I … I do.” She bit her lip, and then took a deep breath. “How do I explain it to him? Explainin’ bein’ sick was hard ‘nuff; he always thinks I’m dyin’ and gets so upset.”

Luda Mae chuckled and leaned in to kiss her soft cheek. Pushing up her glasses with one finger, she clucked her tongue. “We’ll explain to him together. Have you told your uncles? Charlie can help with Thomas.”

“I wanted to tell you first, in case you thought I was wrong…” The girl glanced at her with wide shining eyes. “I dunno how to take care o’ a baby, Momma…”

“Don’t you worry none ‘bout that; I do and I’ll teach you.” Letting go of her hand to bring her in for a hug, she whispered into her daughter’s hair, “Givin’ us ‘nother Hewitt for our family – a beautiful baby. Don’t you worry ‘bout your brother, sweet child. Thomas saw Jedidiah as a baby; we can help him understand. Now let’s watch the sun set together and then we’ll go in and tell your uncles.”

The girl melted in her embrace and they watched the sun go down in silence. Maybe Henrietta kept Jedidiah’s baby clothes and things in good repair? Her heart felt full, her eyes wet behind the glasses. Holding her daughter, she began to rock her slightly. As the breeze died down, she started to sing to her, smiling to imagine singing to Thomas’s baby about mockingbirds and diamond rings.

~ ~ ~

Thomas sat on the bottom step of the stairs to the second floor. They had explained, and Wilma, Henrietta, and even Jedidiah had helped at lunch. Now in the gathering dusk, Amarie sat at his feet, her tiny hand on his knee. Uncle Monty had gone to bed.

Luda Mae watched her son, proud of him for being patient and trying to understand. She knew they would have to be careful. We never allowed him to hold Jedidiah as a baby, not that he’d seemed interested at all. Amarie might like to see him hold their child, though; we’ll just have to watch him and be aware o’ his moods.

“He’s good ‘round the boy now,” Charlie said. “He’ll do fine; we’ll teach him.”

Amarie looked up hopefully at them. “He understands a lot.”

“‘Course he does. I taught him to work, we taught him how to make babies; we can teach him how to act ‘round one.” He went up to Amarie, leaned down and kissed her on the top of the head. With a pat on his nephew’s shoulder, he moved passed them to go upstairs.

Luda Mae smiled down at them. “I’ll need you both at the store tomorrow, so get some sleep. Tommy, your uncle has chores for you in the mornin’, but when you’re done, c’mon out to the store. I got some wood that needs carvin’ up and repairs to make, so bring that chainsaw. Your uncle will remind you.” She hugged both of her children in turn and headed up to bed.

~ ~ ~

Clucking her tongue at the rough patch job in the back wall of the store, Luda Mae watched as Tommy finished with the hammer. She heard the front screen door open and shut and glanced behind her to see her daughter through the grimy front windows, a damp rag in her hand. The glass squeaked as she tried to clean it.

“You finish that up,” she told Thomas, “then come out front to get me and I’ll show you what’s next. I’m gonna go talk to your sister.”

When she got outside, she pulled out a cigarette and her lighter from her dress pocket. “Your uncle should be comin’ soon to pick you up, child. I have one more fix for your brother to do, but if you can get dinner started, I’d be obliged.”

“Yes, ma’am, I will.”

A sound distracted her as she lit the cigarette. Looking down the road, she saw the patrol car coming, kicking up dust into a brown cloud that trailed behind it. She could just make out the shape of another head in the car. Oddly, her brother had allowed his catch to ride in the passenger seat.

“Here comes your uncle now, and it looks like he gotta fresh one. You be careful and follow his lead, y’hear?”

Amarie smiled. “We’re gonna need ‘nother freezer, or… Could we have a little party and have Wilma, Henrietta and Jedidiah over? Have a real big spread?”

Feeling tired from cleaning up the store all morning, Luda Mae nodded as she pocketed her lighter and headed back inside. “Haul up as much as you feel like cookin’ when you get home, child. I’ll stop to ask Wilma if they wanna come over, and lend a hand when I get there.”

“Okay, Momma.”

Luda Mae sighed and puffed on the cigarette, tweaking a few goods on the shelves as she went. She heard Amarie call out a greeting to Charlie. All she wanted to do was sit down, but she would have to get Thomas started on the last thing first.

The patrol car rolled up outside, the tires crunching over the gravel and dirt as it left the road to stop beyond the old gas pumps. One of its doors opened but didn’t close. The engine was still running.

“Sheriff Hoyt?” Amarie called again from outside. “Momma!”

Frowning, wondering what her brother had done to shock the girl, Luda Mae headed back to the door. “What is it, child?”

Through the door, she saw her brother’s back in his sheriff’s uniform and hat walking past the passenger side toward Amarie. Her daughter started to back away from him. Pushing up her glasses, Luda Mae squinted to see with the bright sunlight outside nearly blinding her and the rusted screen not helping a bit.

Then the passenger got out, and her daughter screamed as both people lunged and grabbed Amarie.

Gasping, Luda Mae’s cigarette hit the floor when she opened her mouth to yell. “Thomas! Thomas Brown Hewitt!” She bolted outside, the screen door slamming behind her. “Oh my God, stop! Amarie!”

The man in uniform was not her brother, he was far too young. As she ran around the pumps to reach them, he and a woman in a suit shoved Amarie into the backseat of a Plymouth Belvedere patrol car, just like her brother’s.

Inside the store, her daughter’s screams were answered. The roar of the chainsaw drowned out every other sound as her son charged through the old building.

Luda Mae grabbed at the man’s arm, but he pushed her back against one of the pumps. “Stop! Amarie! Thomas, get ‘em! They’re takin’ her!”

The man yelled at the woman as he slammed the back door shut. “Get in the car, Doctor! Fuck me runnin’, he’ll be on us in a second!”

Behind them, the chainsaw destroyed the screen door. Thomas roared with the machine, raising it high over his head as he rushed up to the car.

Luda Mae ducked behind the pumps, clinging to the last one. Her eyes darted to the car door, to the painted words and emblem moments before the chainsaw blade hit the roof and shattered the passenger side window.

The woman inside the car cursed and screamed. The man darted around the back, jumped in, and the car lurched out of park and careened into a sharp swerve to get back to the road. Gravel, dirt, and dust showered them as its rear end swayed, the driver’s door yawning open before slamming shut as the car straightened out.

Luda Mae watched in horror as Amarie’s face appeared at the back window, her fists beating at the glass, mouth open in a scream.

Thomas kept after it, the chain blade eating a bite out of the trunk door. The patrol car shot off, the blade clipping the bumper in a shower of sparks as it escaped. Swinging the machine wildly, he screamed in pain as it nicked his calf, but he kept running after the car, until he disappeared from sight in the rising dust cloud.

As the dust washed over her, Luda Mae sank down onto her knees against the pump. Clutching her stomach, one hand over her mouth, she began to sob. In the distance, the roar of the chainsaw rumbled on, her son’s agonized guttural cries blending with it.

Forcing herself to breathe, she struggled to stand. The phone was in the store. Charlie was out there somewhere. Sobbing and choking on dust, she stumbled to the door. Half of it was hanging in pieces; the other half had been ground away and thrown several feet into the sparse dry grass. She stepped through the mangled mess carefully and made her way to the phone, her fingers trembling as she lifted the receiver.

“My baby… Oh, my little girl, no…”

**************************************************

Thomas kept running, one leg wet below the knee. He ran until the dust cloud settled, and the car, just like his uncle’s car, was gone. No lights flashed, no siren brayed. The road stretched out before him, empty and quiet.

Gone, gone … where?

The wet leg stumbled and he fell sharply to his knees, barely avoiding landing on the chainsaw. He thrust it out away from him and didn’t care that it sputtered on the road, eating up shards of the old asphalt before it died. The shards hit him and some of them cut, but he didn’t notice.

She had screamed for him, screamed his name. Her palms pressed to the glass, her mouth open wide, she had begged him to help. The dust had swallowed him up; it had gotten in his eyes, his mouth, his cries sucking some of it down his throat. It had hidden them from him, and now they were gone.

He slumped forward, thoughts shredded by rage and loss.

Pain. Pain… Letting go of the machine, his fingers groped for the rip in his pants, low on the leg. Wet, and pain… Finding the slash in his flesh, his fingers dug into it. The pain bloomed and he hissed.

Muscles cramped, but he didn’t move until he heard a car behind him. Growling, he turned and scraped his knees roughly on the road to reach for the chainsaw.

Out of the dust it kicked up around him, a car with a flashing light on top rolled to a stop. He grasped the cord as the door opened and a man got out.

“Tommy! Did you see which way they went? I’m talkin’ to you, boy!”

Thomas let his fingers slip away from the machine. He hadn’t noticed he’d run as far as the place where the two roads, one gray and one brown, crossed. His hand shook as he lifted it to answer his uncle’s angry voice. Trembling thick fingers pointed down the longer road, the gray road.

“Motherfuckin’ cocksuckers.”

His uncle’s boots sounded behind him as Thomas dropped his chin to his heaving chest. He winced at the touch of the hand on his shoulder. He wanted to find her, get her back, kill them … but they were gone. She … was gone.

“Get up, son, now. We gotta get Momma and fix you up. Then we’ll sort out what’s what.”

Thomas growled but the hard fingers gripped him, the voice a bark of authority that cut through despair and sparked fear.

“I said now, boy – don’t you disobey me or I’ll box your ears good. Get up and get in the car. You cain’t walk all that way, you’ll fall over. We’re gonna find your sister again, you just wait and see – but I need to think and I need to talk it over with Momma.” The fingers released him and the boots walked away.

Thomas looked up and watched him go to the open door of the car. Glancing back down the road, he let out a moan.

“C’mon, Tommy – hurry up. Put your little buddy in the trunk and let’s go.”

~ ~ ~

He closed his eyes – he hated the car, the noise, the movement. His mother’s voice called out as the motion stopped. She spoke to him but the words made no sense; they were lost as the noise resumed.

Thomas bolted out when the car stopped again. It was the house, and she wasn’t there.

“Leave that thing in the trunk, boy, and follow Momma; go to the kitchen and sit. We’re gonna patch you up.”

“Charlie, I saw ‘em, it was a young sheriff, I think it was the Hadley boy. He had a woman with him; he called her ‘doctor’.”

“Catch a markin’ on the car?”

“Yes. It was ‘Sheriff o’ Travis County’. Charlie, how can we get her? Can you find her?”

Her. Sister… Thomas felt the heat rise again until it burned in his head. Gone … gone… He drew a deep breath and roared out his rage and grief. He wanted them to hurt, all of them – but his hands were empty.

“Tommy, hold on now! Watch out, Momma!”

He bulled past them and ran to the haphazard grouping of vehicles and motorcycles left over from the cattle that had come to feed his family. Picking up a shovel that was propped against a van, he roared again and swung it, crashing it down onto the cracked windshield of a truck.

“Tommy!”

“Hold up, Momma, let him be a moment. Poor fucker.”

Over and over he swung the heavy tool, denting metal and smashing glass. He could hear his uncle’s voice shouting, but none of the words mattered.

“Look at him go, Momma! All we gotta do is find her. Bust that shit up, boy! Hot damn, we’ll do it. We’re gonna fuckin’ do it! Tommy, you beautiful bastard!”

The shovel head punched through glass. It cracked and crazed, showing him a multifaceted prism of color before it collapsed into the vehicle.

Find her, get her … and kill… Kill the meat that took her. Kill the meat…

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